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the iran nuclear threat. new views on how close that country is to a nuclear bomb. the swing state fight with new key polls. will the court stop publication of new naked kate pictures? one star-crossed actresses mother in a state of denial today. an apple store smash and grab that defies logic. details on that story throughout this hour. first, right now prosecutors are gathering evidence against a chicago teen in a terrorist bomb plot. the 18-year-old american is in jail accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb. it was set to go off outside a chicago bar in one of the city's busiest areas on friday night. a colleague, nbc's michelle franzen, is here with the very latest. some story. hello to you, michelle. >> good afternoon. he's charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy balding by means of explosives. federal authorities say the american born teen appears to be angry and misguided and has no
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ties to any foreign terrorist organizations but say the suspect was determined to plan and carry out an attack. >> reporter: authorities say a bar in chicago's busy downtown was the target friday night of an alleged car bomb plot. planned by 18-year-old adel daoud, an american teen who lives in hillside just outside chicago. he was arrested by undercover agents after he allegedly tried to detonate what he believed were real explosives in a vehicle he parked in front of the bar. >> credit is due to the fbi for literally discovering a needle in a hay stack. >> reporter: federal prosecutors say the suspect was under watch of authorities for months after he posted material on the internet relating to violent jihad and the killing of americans. >> they went undercover by pretending to be terrorist colleagues. who could help him in his plans to carry out an attack. >> reporter: authorities say
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daoud allegedly drafted a list of approximately 29 potential targets including military recruiting centers, bars, malls and other tourist attractions in the chicago area. but at no time, authorities say, did he pose a real threat to the public. prosecutors are expected to outline more details at a hearing tomorrow. meanwhile the suspect remains in custody and he, too, is expected to appear at the hearing. alex? >> all right, michelle franzen, many thanks. heading overseas. more dramatic turns on a number of fronts. first to afghanistan. four americans are dead after another so-called insider attack. a member of the afghan security forces reportedly opened fire on them at a security check point. it was a location manned by both foreign and afghan forces in a remote location between kabul and kandahar. saturday two british soldiers were also gunned down in an insider attack which now brings to 51 the total of coalition forces killed by their afghan
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partners this year. today a dire warning from iran's top commander who says nothing will remain of israel if it takes military action against its nuclear program. meanwhile israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu says iran is close to making enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. america's top u.n. diplomat had a different take. they both appeared on "meet the press." >> i think as they get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of weapons grade material, and they're very close. they're six months away from being about 90% of having the enriched uranium for an at m bomb, i think you have to place that red line before them now. >> they're not there yet. they are not there yet. and our assessment is, we share this regularly with our israeli counterparts and the intelligence and defense community, there is time and space for the pressure we are mounting which is unprecedented in terms of sanctions to still yield results. this is not imminent. >> nbc news white house
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correspondent mike viqueira is joining me live with the latest. >> reporter: there are differing facts with the u.s. and israel in the form of the prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, who's taken a very hard line over the last few days. there are things the government agree on. number one iran does, in fact, have a nuclear program. they are enriching uranium. they have not taken the step to enriching it to so-called weapons grade quality, if you will. but they are on their way to doing that. you heard ambassador rice say there is still plenty of time. earlier in the year the estimates from the u.s. government was there would be about a year and that the united states and israel and the world community would know if and when iran makes that turn. another thing they agree on, it can't be just a policy of containing iran, allowing them to go nuclear, but keeping them contained much like the old cold war as the west did with the soviet union. but prime minister netanyahu
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wants a more forthright stance publicly from the united states in terms of that red line. setting forth, delineating a clear deadline, clear red line of how far iran can or cannot go in developing those nuclear weapons. here's a little bit more of what he told david gregory. >> is israel closer to taking action into its own hands? >> we always reserve the right to act. but i think that if we are able to coordinate together a common position, we increase the chances that neither one of us will have to act. >> he wants more coordination with the united states in taking a stronger stand against iran. meanwhile ambassador rice says iran is growing more isolated under the policies that are now in place absent any military action. >> iran is more isolated than ever internationally. the economic pressure it is facing is much greater than ever. when president obama came to office, the international community was divided about iran. and iran was internally very united.
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the exact opposite is the case today. >> reporter: from the president on down, administration officials say the oil sanctions that have taken place over the summer, european oil sanctions now joining american oil sanctions, other economic sanctions, really taking a bite out of iran's economy. that may be enough to bring them to heel short of any military action against those nuclear installations. alex? >> pretty serious stuff we're discussing here. thanks. meanwhile, around the globe, heightened security at u.s. embassies and consulates as officials try to contain violence over the anti-islamic video made by an american. in paris well-armed police are now guarding the american embassy as a group of protesters stand by. overall u.s. officials expect protests to be calm but continue in the coming days. meanwhile, to the attack in libya, more arrests in the assault on the consulate that killed the u.s. ambassador and three others. today the u.s. ambassador to the united nations susan rice outlined the very latest on that investigation. >> our current assessment is
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that what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo. almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video. what we think then transpired in benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. they came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are readily available in post-revolutionary libya, and they escalated into a much more violent episode. >> nbc is live for us in benghazi, libya. let's talk about the u.s. officials who are on the ground now. how many of the suspects are in custody and are there any leads on other suspects? >> alex, we had the chance yesterday to speak to libya's president, head of the general national council here.
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he told us he did agree with ambassador rice on one point. he believes this was a sinister, preplanned attack. this was the hallmark of foreign militants who had come into libya to exploit the security vacuum here and planned a very specific attack against the united states. when and how that was carried out was, perhaps, the question that they are still unable to answer. according to libyan officials, they have made arrests in the case. some of the individuals they are currently keeping an eye on as well through their surveillance and other intelligence agencies, they believe they have valuable information as to who may have been responsible. but in the minds of libyan officials, there's no doubt that this was not just simply anno annousburst of anger. yes, there was the peaceful protest. at some point during the course of that evening a preplanned attack was set into motion killing the american ambassador and others. they are, understandably so, very frustrated with the security vacuum in this country. that has even made it more so difficult to the libyan officials to hunt down the perpetrators.
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they sealed off the compound, u.s. consulate. they are waiting for if u.s. officials do actually arrive in the country, they are waiting for them to do so so they can go through the scene of the crime and identify any evidence that can identify the perpetrators. but for now that compound has been sealed shut and any information, we understand, is being shared with american officials through their libyan counterparts. alex? >> ayman, you talk about the hunt for the perpetrators. does that mean those in custody right now are those who have information or believed to have actually been part of the mob that went after the ambassador and three others? >> reporter: libya officials at this stage are being very tight lipped as to who with these individuals are. what they've done is interview witnesses at the scene. some of the protesters. they've also been able to speak to some of the libyan security guards who were wounded in that attack at the hospitals here. and they've been able to identify individuals who were among the crowd. they would not say if these individuals actually participated in carrying out the attack or simply individuals with very valuable information as to who may have been behind
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the attack. >> nbc in benghazi. many thanks. in our next hour, joe sestak, a democrat, joins me. he is the highest ranking military officer to ever serve in congress. he says mitt romney's statements this week on libya do not befit a commander in chief. i'm going to ask him about that coming up at 1:00 eastern here on "weekends with alex witt." front page politics. new today the money game has hit a new high. ad spending by the obama and romney campaigns plus p sup superpacs has surpassed $600 million. many of that to run ads in ohio, virginia and florida. president obama is adding a campaign stop in milwaukee this week. wisconsin next saturday, a state he won in 2008 by 14 points. it's a wbusy week for the president. on thursday he heads to florida. on friday he visits virginia along with new orleans, louisiana. mitt romney kicks off the week with a stop in colorado and los angeles, california, today. wednesday he'll be in miami for
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a facebook meet the candidates event. beginning this week governor romney and congressman paul ryan will begin receiving regular intelligence briefings from national security officials in the obama administration. west coast headlines are next with a report on why the white house can't be blamed for the higher gas prices. plus, fresh predictions for who will take the house and senate this year. it's all coming up for you in office politics. keep it here on "weekends with alex witt." with the spark cash card from capital one, olaf's pizza palace gets the most rewards of any small business credit card! pizza!!!!! [ garth ] olaf's small business earns 2% cash back on every purchase, every day! put it on my spark card! [ high-pitched ] nice doin' business with you! [ garth ] why settle for less? great businesses deserve the most rewards! awesome!!! [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day!
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some headlines making news on the west coast. in san jose, california, the mercury news has a story titled gas prices bow to no one. despite the rhetoric, presidents have little control over the prices at the pump.
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for president george w. bush, the average price during his first 45 months in office was $2.98. for president obama the average is $3.04. the las vegas sun has an article titled why we don't host dnc or rnc. the article explains how both parties have shown interest but the reward doesn't justify the sacrifice. tourism officials say in order to make room for a political convention las vegas would have to bump as many as ten regular conventions. defense secretary leon panetta says the violence in the middle east over an anti-muslim film appears to be leveling off but warned turmoil in the region could continue for days. at the same time the state department is taking precautions ordering all family members of nonessential u.s. government personnel to leave their posts in sudan and tunisia. for more on the political implications, joined by deputy political national editor for the washington post and reporter for real clear politics, erin pike.
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ann, you first with the romney camp geared up on the economy, and now they have to field these foreign affairs questions, foreign affairs is something president obama deals with daily, so how much of a disadvantage is this for the governor? >> well, it may not be a part of their script or what they had hoped to be talking about throughout this campaign. but after initially makes a statement that came under much criticism the romney campaign came back pretty hard the end of last week criticizing president obama's overall middle east strategy. so they've tried to turn this to their advantage. i suspect that it will not be many more days that we're talking about this if, in fact, as defense secretary panetta said the violence does subside. i think we will probably return to the economy soon enough. look, at some point governor romney's going to have to talk about foreign policy if only because there's going to be a foreign policy debate at the end of october. >> exactly. erin, all this said, at what point does this start damaging the white house if it appears it does not have a handle on those overseas situations? >> well, it could be as early as next week.
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the reason is this. by friday afternoon the anti-american protests had spread to about 20 countries. they might be dying down. let's say there's a second wave of violence next week. that then puts the onus on the obama administration to come forward and provide a more cogent defense of the approach to the mideast. that's also dependent on the romney campaign and if mitt romney can recover from some of the missteps of last week and really target the president on this issue. then it makes president obama on the defensive and he'll have to offer a better defense of his approach. >> guys, let's switch gears and go to poll numbers. anne, the new nbc journal squn wall street marrist poll shows president obama leading in virginia, ohio and florida. is this a post democratic national convention bounce? what does the white house read? do the president's advisers think this is going to last? >> i would say the white house and president obama's team is feeling pretty good about the numbers but, of course, they
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take nothing for granted. they know better than that. whether it's a post convention bounce or accumulated effect of what they see as smart decisions on their part and missteps by the romney campaign, it's the position you want to be in after labor day. it's certainly the position you want to be in going into debate season. again, they're going to campaign hard, they say. they're going to take none of it for granted. they do like to look at the swing states as opposed to the national polling to see what's happening. especially in ohio and florida. really all three states that you mentioned. >> virginia. >> thags good news for them. >> earn, what to you think is behind this bounce for the president? you talk to people out on the campaign trail. i know you were back home in ohio doing the same. that's where the president's leading by seven points. what is it in his message that seems to have suddenly kicked in and is there real room for mitt romney to come back? >> well, look. the president is running a very tightly focused state by state campaign. he is hammering the romney/ryan ticket on medicare in florida.
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and he's trumpeting the auto bailout in ohio. those messages work in those states whereas the romney campaign is running a more generalized economic message. and that doesn't have the same effect. now, on both sides of the aisle i'm talking to campaigns and super pacs who say president obama is running consistently four points ahead of mitt romney in ohio. and that's why we're seeing mitt romney talk about china. really running a harder line on china. because that kind of message could resonate in ohio. so we're going to start to see mitt romney drill down on some of these states like the president has to see if he can make up some ground in the swing states. >> anne, i'm curious what's happening in the state of wisconsin. because the president is heading there next weekend. that's a state he easily won in 2008. why is he stopping there? any chance there are internal polls saying that that state may now be in play? >> well, if you're a democrat you do not want wisconsin to be seriously in play. that's a sign there may be some things happening nationally that
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aren't good for you. but in this election cycle we've got, of course, a native wisconsinite on the ticket. so i think with paul ryan there and they've been now using paul ryan in wisconsin, it's not much of a surprise that the president would want to go in there. at least make sure they're on stronger footing. there's been a lot of political tum ult in that state. it's one stop. we'll see. if he's continuing to campaign there and if that's where he spends the day before the election, i'll take it as a sign they think they're in real trouble. at this point, i think it's a sign they're trying to make sure they're not. >> erin, i want to quickly look at michigan. some of the latest poll numbers show u mitt romney's behind there by ten points. has the romney camp shown any evidence of abandoning thoughts of his home state and taking it? >> the evidence simply is this. that mitt romney and paul ryan are not campaigning in michigan. they're spending their time elsewhere. when they tell reporters what their states in play are and they're focused on that, when they talk about the upper midwest, they talk specifically about wisconsin, which you were just talking about.
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they don't -- they don't trump up michigan as much. they're not showing any sign of really pulling out. it's just that they're not there. >> erin mcpike ann, cornblut, thank you. the season premiere of "saturday night live." ja let's check this out. >> so, america, i know you're not in love with me anymore. but i want you to know that my heart still beats for you. and i can prove it. ♪ i so in love with you that was fun, right? so do you want that or this? >> e-i-o-i-o! how about that? that was "old mcdonald had a
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tech watch now here. tax fees shopping on the internets becoming more endangered in california . amazon agreed to collect sales tax in california in a deal that agreed to pave the way for new shipping centers in california. in 1978 ali regained title against spinks becoming the only man in heavyweight history to win the crown three tights. the day after the fight with ali, making fun of those who thought he was too old to win. >> i was a dancer. i was not 36 years old fighting 15 years pro, not dancing in the 15th round. no, that's not possible.
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i did not dance 36 and he's 25 and full energy? you mean i didn't look old? am i really the greatest of all times? of all times? am i really the greatest of all times? >> ali says he will spend the next six or seven months thinking then announce either his retirement or his next fight. the odds right now are against retirement. >> ali did retire but then returned to boxing. his final fought was in 1981 which he lost. last week ali earned a new prize. he was honored in philadelphia with the liberty medal on thursday for his role in humanitarian causes and his long-time fight for civil rights. now to today's number ones of history. any kind of predictor that minnesota is likely to have the highest turnout of the polls in november. the gopher state had the greatest voter turnout in the past three presidential elections. in 2008 nearly 78% of rej
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sterped voters plasterp ed voters placed a stoet. hawaii was the state with the lowest turnout in the 2008 election with about 49%. west virginia had just less than 50%. arkansas, 52.5%.'s automotive misery index considers how much it costs for you to drive like for gasoline, insurance and whatnot. where do motorists have the worst of it? mississippi. the best? new hampshire. what you want? what you want? what you want? >> okay. what do i want? this two-second clip that we had to put on a loop is the top rated video right now on tops on itunes, gangnam style. we're styling to the break on "weekends with alex witt." this is so much fun.
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to scrub away tough, dried-on stains. hey, do you guys think i'm "momtacular" or "momtrocious"? ♪ [ female announcer ] swiffer. now with the scrubbing power of mr. clean magic eraser. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt" at 32 past the hour. new today israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu warning iran is on the brink of going nuclear saying that country is about six months from making enriched uranium, a critical step in the bomb making progress. he also weighed in on israel's relationship with the u.s. and the upcoming presidential election. >> governor romney for a year, and he said it in his convention speech, has said, quote, president obama has thrown allies like israel under the bus. do you agree or disagree with governor romney's charge? it's a serious charge. >> well, you're trying to get me
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into the -- into the american election, and i'm not going to do that. the relationship between israel and the united states is a bond of -- it's just a very powerful bond. >> joining me for today's strategy talk is former vermont governor and dnc chairman howard dean and former rnc chairman and msnbc analyst michael steele. gentlemen, good to see you both. >> how you doing? >> governor dean, i want to begin with you here. you just heard prime minister suns netanyahu. why is one of america's closest allies incapable of saying the president has not, quote, thrown him under the bus? >> this past week has been somewhat of a disaster for romney. he clearly really doesn't know foreign policy very well. he's flailing around. he, of course, has now wasted another week not talking about the economy which i think he understands he has to do but just can't seem to help himself. i thought the line of the week was from president obama who just said governor romney shoots
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first and aims later. i know from experience in the presidency that you just can't do that. that is the difference between these two candidates in term of experience. >> michael, up until last week the general consensus was that no one really cares about foreign policy for this election. that was a good thing for the romney campaign. has their strategy now been thrown into a sense of upheaval? >> i don't know if it's so much upheaval. but it is a sort of a taking into account this idea that foreign policy is going to be a role here. certainly there's some of us who've always thought foreign policy, while it was not the predominant point of discussion, would be a part of the conversation. simply given what we were seeing evolve in the middle east starting with the arab spring right to the present. i think the romney campaign now has to figure out how it juxtapose an economic argument over or alongside a foreign policy argument. because there are some economic questions that can be answered there. but the broader charge to howard dean's point, where are your policies going?
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what is your view of the world stage? now comes into sharp contrast with the president. this was not a good week for the romney team in terms of establishing and distinguishing their direction and what they would do in foreign policy versus what the president has done or is doing? >> governor dean, why is it benjamin netanyahu is not able to say that president obama has not thrown him under the bus? >> because it's incredibly foolish for one of our critical allies to make that relationship worse. my guess is the personal relationship between netanyahu and president obama is not all that good. i think most of that has to do with president obama. if you look back at our relationship with israel, which is historically incredibly strong and remains strong, this is really a personalalty problem. >> yeah. >> vice president goes over there. netanyahu's government chooses that moment to announce they're going to expand settlements into the west bank. which is absolutely opposite from american foreign policy. you know, this is just --
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there's been a lot of mistakes. we're never going to throw israel under the bus. that's a ridiculous thing to say. first of all, we couldn't afford to if we wanted to. we would like israel to adhere to the two-state solution. as president bush outlined. but this is a bump in the road. netanyahu's smart to try to stay out of american politics. it was a mistake for him to dip his toe into it during an election year. this is all water over the dam. we're going to have a strong relationship with the israel for the foreseeable future. we have to. we're two democracies. >> michael, by the way, is it damaging in such a sensitive time for mitt romney to be saying the president is throwing israel under the bus? >> no. i think from a political standpoint, what romney team is trying to do is to emphasize to jew iish voters and those align with israel here in the united states that this administration has taken a course or at least had a tone with israel -- >> okay. but hang on. you say tone.
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that -- it just doesn't seem right to use that vernacular in describing things. i mean, saying the president has thrown israel under the bus. >> well, look. i think that there is -- there's, you know, obviously issues and evidence and the governor just cited one with respect to joe biden's visit to israel and the relationships that we have -- have had in the past and how that has played out currently. yeah, that rhetoric sort of plays to that. it pays to some of those concerns about whether or not this president genuinely supports the idea of the partnership between the united states and israel. i think that's the politics of it. i think the rewralty, though, is largely where governor dean says it is. the relationship between this country and israel is strong. irrespective of the personal disagreements between the sitting prime minister and the sitting president, that's the underlying tone that we need to strike. i think for both sides, it's important that we continue to strike that support for israel. >> governor dean, bill maher
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said on friday night that mitt romney lost the election with his reaction to libya. but does the average voter understand all the details of this story? and even more, do they care? >> here's what the problem for romney is. he can't -- he doesn't look presidential. this has happened two or three times. he overreacts. almost as if he's bought into the right wing rhetoric which i don't think most people respect. his problem is he didn't appear to know much about libya which i don't think he does. his problem was he didn't look presidential. the one area you really have to be presidential in, you cannot run into the presidency and deal with a very dangerous world and not know what you're talking about. and that is the problem that mitt romney ran into this week. >> okay. governor, also real quickly, just as the republicans have been accused of welcoming bad economic news for their own purposes politically speaking, is the president at all in danger of being seen as using the death of an ambassador to his advantage? >> i don't think so. any more than george bush was seen as some sort of political
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person for the incredible speech he gave at the world trade center after with a megaphone. at times like this when americans are being killed and bad things are happening wants to see the president act like a president. i think president obama did act like a president this week. >> along the lines of the 2004 barack obama hope and change and john mccain maverick, how would you describe mitt romney's strategy? what is the underlying theme here? i'll go to you first, michael. >> i think that's to be rather frank about it, i think that's part of this challenge that the romney team faces. going back to your first question, the foreign policy issue was not a forefront of the tis cushion. it sort of crept into the debate. i don't think there is a central theme, core theme that really distinguishes the foreign policy of barack obama from a foreign policy of a president obama. that's something that given recent events the obama team -- or the romney team has to do and do so in a very presidential way. >> governor? >> i think michael's right about that. but historically there hasn't been a lot of difference between republican and democratic foreign policy.
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i think george w. bush was an exception. i don't think a democratic president would have sent us to war in iraq. generally speaking, the american foreign policy doesn't change a lot between democratic and republican administrations. for good reason. so i don't think there's a lot of hay to be made by governor romney in foreign policy. he needs to stick to the economy. he just can't seem to do that. we've got six weeks left. >> okay. howard dean, michael steele, guys, great to see you both. thank you so much. in tad's office politics, my conversation with larry sabato. we talked about his predictions for who will take the house and senate this year and why virginia is the paris of politics. first, i asked larry about the elect ral advantages for an incumbent president. >> historically, incumbents have won twice as often as they've lost if they've sought a second term. history alone suggests that there is an advantage to incumbency. then you look at the particulars
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and the specifics. first of all, while the economy could be stronger, certainly on jobs, as a whole, it isn't weak enough in historical terms to cause the defeat of an incumbent. there's going to have to be more than the economy if president obama's going to lose. now, does it come from a foreign crisis? i don't know. there are lots of things percolating out there. you never know what might develop. but i think president obama has a lead and it's more stable than people think in part because we're so polarized and dug in. i don't see large numbers of people changing. and as a political -- i rely a lot on election models. the election models that i really pay attention to suggest a small but durable obama edge. it's not going to be a landslide or a near landslide the way 2008 was. i don't think president obama's going to approach 365 electoral
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votes. you only need 270. in the house it's so difficult for democrats to gain the 25 net seats they need to take control. i think it is very probable that the republicans will retain control. they'll lose a few seats. it's probably going to be single digit. my guess is the republicans will be in the 230s. you need 218 to control. they'll be in the 230s. they're at 242 now. the senate, though, it turns really interesting. in the beginning of this election cycle, just about everybody thought the republicans would take control of the senate. well, it's not working out that way. at the most, they will get an extremely narrow, very thin majority. 51, 52 seats. that is if mitt romney wins. if he loses, if president obama wins, i think it's much more likely that the democrats will
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retain the senate very narrowly. either 51-49 or 50-50 with a tie broken by the next president. and it just goes to show that campaigns and candidates really matter. you cannot analyze the senate without looking at the specific candidates and the conditions in their states. who could have imagined the todd aiken situation in missouri? who thought in the beginning that olympia snowe would step aside in maine thereby opening up a solid republican seat that probably will be filled by an independent who will caucus with the democrats. >> you predicted in 2008 the electoral vote within one vote. you got president obama's popular vote percentage exactly right at 53%, larry. how did you do that? >> well, i have a magic eight ball that i use. >> a crystal ball. >> that's the crystal ball. i've had that since childhood. unfortunately most of the time when i shake it up and turn it upsidedown it says, ask again
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later. it actually gave me the right answer. no, seriously. election models and a terrific team. i've just -- i'm very proud of my team. i think they're among the best in politics and political analysis. >> how much of an impact might third-party candidates present in this election? >> if this is a really close election, then you will have the third party or independent candidates coming into play. they've already had some impacts. gary johnson, i think, has taken new mexico off the map. we have a former congressman right in this area, virgil goode, a very conservative republican running as the candidate. it's bound to cost mitt romney votes. how many? no one knows. for decades i had to live vicariously through friends in real swing states because virginia certainly wasn't one. now it's almost too good to be true. you know, i put it this way. we used to be the bulgaria of politics. now we're the paris. nobody wants to leave. so i'm thrilled. and it's great.
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i don't have to look online for all the ads. they come right to me in my living room. it's terrific. i'm not sure thomas jefferson would like it. he couldn't appreciate these ads in his pavilion. he was genteel. of course, his supporters were pretty tough on john adams. but he personally was genteel. >> i want to thank larry sabato for a great conversation. number four on our first five web stories, the mother of lindsay lohan in a state of denial today. lohan's father michael is accusing dena of drinking excessively before a tv show. she looks confused but claims it's the editing that makes her look bad. droid does. and does it launch apps by voice while learning your voice ? launch cab4me. droid does. keep left at the fork. does it do turn-by-turn navigation ? droid does. with verizon, america's largest 4g lte network, and motorola,
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oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners. new legal action over the controversial topless photos taken of prince william's wife, kate middleton. a st. james palace spokesman says lawyers for the royal couple will appear in court in paris tomorrow to try to stop a french tabloid from publishing any more pictures of kate.
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legal analyst lisa green is joining me now. welcome back, lisa. nice to see zhyou. we're hearing reports this magazine, tabloid, has even more explicit pictures of kate. how much of this legal fight is about keeping those from being published? >> that's really a lost cause at this point. the italian editor of that magazine has vowed to publish them, says they're perfectly appropriate. it's a scoop, he says. these are both countries where the, you know, photos have been published, france and italy, that if you had advised the royal couple about where to look for great legal protection, where to vacation where you'd get great privacy protection, you would have chosen france with italy as a close second. what's so remarkable, alex, is that even in these two countries with very strong privacy laws you see the royal couple having a difficult time containing the outflow of these photographs. >> from the palace's perspective they say this is an invasion of privacy. they were on private property. i believe there was something like 850 acres of this property. you would assume even just
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geographically you've been insulated. >> it's a legitimate expectation of privacy especially in france where both the french constitution and european law protects privacy. take note of this. these magazines are reaping enormous financial benefit from the publication of these photos. they've made a calculated decision. we know we may be facing legal action. we're going to do it anyway. at most, the editor in france could get a $60,000 fine and maybe up to a year in prison. that's highly unlikely. >> how about responsibility for the royals in terms of their privacy protection here? >> some commentators are pointing out that if you really want your privacy, maybe it's a good idea not to take off your bikini top close to where very long lens photos might be. certainly in the uk, a lot of people are sympathetic to kate's plight. they feel there ought to be some zone of privacy particularly since she's such a popular figure there. >> do you think we're going to see more photos?
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>> yes. definitely more photos. this is one of those cases people look to the law for protection. it can only protection you so much. when there's not necessarily a public interest in the photos, but the public is really interested in the photos. it's the classic journalism balance. >> always interesting on how do you try to mandate what is proper and what is not. both ends of this one. >> both ends. every country feels very differently about it. >> thank you. the last of our top five stories trending this hour, a smash and grab robbery in an apple iphone store in california. security video showing the bmw crashing into the store front there. men seen jumping out of the car. taking the iphones and ipads off the display tables. wow. that's kind of desperate. [ female announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role
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now you can test-drive snapshot before you switch. visit today. the u.s. isdy employing forces to the middle east ahead of potential demonstrations. i'm joined by a journalist, author and msnb contributor, i'm glad to have you here to talk
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about this. let's talk about what happened with friday's "washington post." it has this terrific article. it is titled "why is the arab world so easily offended?" it's written there's an arab pain and a volatility in the face of judgment by outsiders that stem from a deep and enduring sense of humiliation. a vast chasm separates the poor standing of arabs in the world today from their history of greatest. in this context, their injured pride is easy to understand. i know we could spend two years talking about this. try to put it in perspective. >> it's very easy. there's an arab pride that is inherent, no doubt, after the iraqi war, afghani war, guantanamo, abu ghraib and all of these episodes. the mayor issue that every u.s. administration, the last five presidents before obama, supported dictatorship. this is actually the legacy of that support. this is -- what we see that most of these kids that go to the
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streets and protest today are the people who were born, raised under those dictators. for them it's very hard to grasp democracy. it's very easy to vote to overthrow a deck at a tiictator. it's hard to built citizenship. that takes time. it will take a lot of education and a lot of patience. from the west, especially, the investment that hillary clinton, president obama is doing is investing in citizens. they are giving tons and tons of actually scholarships and building prbridge, a cultural bridge. >> that's tis getting to some people certainly. where is that chasm between those people that are being reached by western outreach and those people that are not? >> let's talk about these people that are not. who are they? i mean, most of the twitters that i've been reading from egypt, and i've been visiting egypt this summer. i've been also in lebanon.
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most of these people are manipulated by fanatics. we know the minority that was defeated after the arab spring were religious extremists. the muslim brotherhood, you know, they denounced what was happening. they said they would make a human chain around the embassy. they spoke not as quickly as we want them. it's time for them to stand up, say what they stand for, their values and how they will be leading this country toward progress and democracy. >> when you look at things like benghazi and all the hot spots that have erupted around the world, is it as a result of just this film or was there someth g something -- or was it 9/11? >> those things together. this film is a provocation. and let's look at the film by itself. the film was financed by egyptian christians who are minorities that have been suppressed, abused in egypt of today. many churches were burned in the
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last 18 months. but i was scared and i was terrified that after these episodes, many of egyptians will be killed. none of them was even harassed or smashed. what that tells you, it tells you when the muslim brotherhood send a message, they sent clearly a message, don't touchny christians. it's a big issue. none of them was touched. it was used by the radical groups to go around the embassy to take advantage of the political situation. create for morsi and the muslim brotherhood. a al qaeda was decimated. bin laden was killed. this is also one of the reactions. >> as i said, we can talk about this for two years. come back and do this again. escalating war of words
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between israel and iran over the nuclear issue. you're going to hear from benjamin netanyahu next. en whens our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why, at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
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good day, everyone. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." just past 1:00 here in the east. 10:00 a.m. out west. we'll get to what's happening out there. today iran's top commander issues a dire warning. he says nothing will remain of israel if it takes military action against iran's nuclear program. meanwhile, israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu and america's top u.n. diplomat square off on whether iran is on the brink of making a nuclear weapon. >> i think that as they get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of weapons grade material, and they're very close. they're six months away from being about 90% of having an enriched uranium for an atom bomb, i think you have to place that red line before them now. >> they're not there yet. they are not there yet. and our assessment is, and we share this regularly with our israeli counterparts and the
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intelligence and defense community, that there is time and space for the pressure we are mounting which is unprecedented in terms of sanctions, to still yield results. this is not imminent. >> the exchange naturally raises questions about what is an imminent threat and how close iran is to actually building the bomb. joining me now, colonel jack jacobs, congress mall mional me honor recipient. msnbc analyst as well. good day to you, sir. who's right? is iran only six months away from making a nuclear weapon? >> no, they're not. they're close, but they're not six months away from making a nuclear weapon. i don't think they're even six months away from having enough material to put a nuclear weapon together. it takes a lot more than just having enough material for that. that's not right. >> all right. how long until they do have the ability? >> very good question. i am told by some authorities, some people who know what they're talking about, maybe a year. depending -- all things being
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equal and depending upon what happened and whether or not their -- their manufacturing process goes well. i'm told it may take even longer than that. i think the united states, well, i know the united states is banking on its taking lots longer than that. so somewhere between six months, which is what netanyahu says, and a long time which is what the united states hopes is really the truth. >> so what we're talking about is the inriched uranium, which is one component putting into an atomic bomb. even beyond having the bomb, colonel, you have to have the delivery system with which to -- to get it out there. >> that's right. >> so how about that? >> you have to have enough material, as you say. then you have to be able to fashion the weapon. more difficult is fashioning a trigger for it. that's still under development. so that's going to take some time. but in terms of actually being able to deliver a weapon, you know, it's one thing to put a nuclear weapon together. it's one thing to have a missile
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that can range the target. it's something else again altogether to marry the two together. it takes a lot of technology that iran does not yet possess. it might one of these days soon. but it doesn't have it yet. tough to put those two things together. >> okay. there are possibilities of an israeli attack or sanctions. whether or not they would work. let's listen a bit more from ambassador rice and mr. netanyahu from "meet the press." >> is israel closer to taking action into its own hands? >> we always reserve the right to act, but i think that if we are able to coordinate together a common position, we increase the chances that neither one of us will have to act. >> iran is more isolated than ever internationally. the economic pressure it is facing is much greater than ever. when president obama came to office, the international community was divided about iran. and iran was internally very united. the exact pop sopposite is the today. >> what about iran's economy,
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colonel? might it collapse before they're even able to make a bomb? >> i don't think so. i don't think -- no matter what we do and how difficult we make it on iran through sanctions, the economy is not going to collapse. one of the things they can do is make life tifdifficult for oil moving through the straits. i think you can expect actually some shooting over that with iranian gun boats over time. i don't think that's going to stop the flow of oil. nothing we are going to do or can do is going to put so much economic pressure on iran that it economically claollapses. it's going to be a standoff like this for quite some time, i believe. >> what do you make of the iranian military commander who said nothing will remain of israel if it takes military action against tehran? >> i don't think that's going to happen either. extreme difficulty in the region is one of the things that's keeping israel from launching an attack. over time it's become more and more difficult to launch an attack, which would be preemptive and prevent iran from
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developing nuclear weapons. some of the sites are deep and hardened. it requires refueling. large flotilla of airplanes. some of which may be lost. indeed, political opinion in israel is divided and among military people in israel, there's a strong feeling that any preemptive attack on iran is a bad idea. >> all right. colonel jack jacobs, thank you very much. four americans are dead after another so-call insider attack. a member of the afghan security forces reportedly opened fire on the security check point. nbc's atia abawi is in kabul with more. hello to you. what's the latest? >> the deadliest year for insider attacks. 51 nato coalition members have died this year alone from these insider attacks. that's up from 35 in all of 2011. before that in 2007 and 2008 there was a grand total of four
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coalition soldiers who died from these insider attacks. this one today occurred in zabul province in southern afghanistan. it seems from local officials that they may have been duped by the police. the police were at a security check point according to one afghan official. they say that they were under attack and called for help from these american service members. when they came, some, at least one, turned his weapon on the american service members and killed four of them, wounding at least two others. according to the taliban, of course, they're taking the claim of responsibility for the attack. they say it's to avenge this anti-islamic movie that has claimed outrage in the muslim world. we should also mention two other nato service members were killed yesterday in helmand province. they were british soldiers by the same kind of insider attack. >> again, leading to this very disturbing trend. may i ask you quickly about a developing story, atia, happening there? a controversial air strike by
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nato? >> reporter: that's -- that's right. at least eight afghan women were killed. seven others injured when a nato air strike targeted a province in the east. these women apparently were gathering firewood in a nearby forest. nato mistook them for insurgents, dropped a bomb, killing eight of them, injuring the other seven as well. this has outraged president karzai. he sent a statement out condemning the attack and calling for an investigation. obviously this won't be much for already multiple criticisms to nato. u.s. secretary of defense leon panetta today says protests over the anti-muslim film are around the globe, but they are leveling off. they may continue, however, over the next few days. this is video from karachi, pakistan, where hundreds of protesters clashed with police today. in afghanistan hundreds of university students gathered today in kabul. they burned a u.s. flag and chanted "death to america."
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the demonstrations prompted stronger security in u.s. embassies and consulates around the world. in paris well-armed police stood outside the embassy keeping protesters at bay. one of the men behind the film is now in hiding. he's at an undisclosed location for the safety of both him and his family. he says he has received numerous death threats. in a moment, a closer look at new tough talks from iran and the possibility of a violence showdown with the west. we will speak with the highest ranking military officer to ever serve in congress. former democratic congressman joe sestak. [ thunder crashes ] [ male announcer ] if you think all batteries are the same... consider this: when the unexpected happens, there's one brand of battery more emergency workers trust in their maglites: duracell. one reason: duralock power preserve. it locks in power for up to 10 years in storage. guaranteed. so, whether it's 10 years' of life's sunny days... or... the occasional stormy one... trust goes a long way. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere.
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heightened fears of a conflict between iran and israel today. here's prime minister benjamin netanyahu in an interview today.
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>> it's the same fanaticism that you see storming the embassies today. do you want these fanatic to have nuclear weapons? >> that was "meet the press." retired navy vice as mirl and former u.s. congressman, joe s sest sestak. is iran's leadership built of fanatics? >> without any question the president is a without having to go take our military option off the table, have it on the back of the table. to be able to make their economy drop as it has in terms of the inflation right -- in terms of unemployment skyrocketing. in order for it not to be able as it can't today sell its oil to the breadth it wants to. this is important. because no one has laid out well the consequences, the dimensions of the consequences of a strike
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either by israel or by the united states. and they are immense. with implications that can go around this world. we should make sure we're trying to -- that we can make them hurt by our economic and at this particular timic sancti-- >> sir, this is a war. we are a country. do you believe the u.s. would really go to war with iran if they built a nuclear weapon? >> i think as the president said were not going to rule out the military option. but mr. netanyahu has said that they can have the material ready to go in about six months. it would take them another six to eight months before they could even begin to place it together in the configuration of a bomb and then made into a missile or some aircraft that might be able to drop it off. we have a true window of opportunity here. but you asked a very important question. if they do have a nuclear weapon, the implications in terms of blackmail are immense. that is why he hasn't taken it off the table.
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it will take a commander in chief, a president, to explain why it may well be in our interest a year, a year and a half from now in order to do a strike as surgical as possible. keep in mind that even the united states with the breadth of its assets and the depth that we would have to strike after strike -- deeply buried targets that we could probably put their nuclear capability -- their nuclear program out of whack for only about four years. that's why this president is pursuing the course he is and why we need this international coalition including russia, who has been slow to the table, to continue to clamp down on iran. >> let's go to the libya situation now. you said in a radio interview with msnbc's ed schultz that mitt romney's response to the cairo embassy statement was not befitting a commander in chief. why was that? >> it was rash. he put it out in the middle of the night before having all the facts. second, he aimed it at a mid-level government employee
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who put out a statement even before the protesters had gotten to the walls of the embassy which actually just reiterated the values of the united states. our freedom of religion, free t dom of press. in my mind a person who wants to assume commander in chief has to show they are resolute but they are also determined to make sure they put out a thoughtful approach that absolutely says first and foremost the constitution demands the security of our land which includes our embassies overseas. second, we do condemn both here at home extremism. but we will not permit that extremism here at home. on an outrageous film to drive a wedge between us and an arab movement that is actually more in the right way than the wrong way of moving towards democracy. we have in place in these three governments libya, egypt, tunisia, a much more moderate government than people thought we would have months ago. while we do have to come down hard on egypt particularly, that
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with turkey can become two ba i bastions that can help assume -- that president did not condemn the security of our -- where he didn't protect us, our embassy, but did protect syria's embassy just a week prior. i'm talking about, once more, the right approach of a thoughtful way of carrots and sticks. mr. romney didn't demonstrate that when he not only shot too rationally but he didn't even shoot at the right target. he actually went below his weight. he was punching below it. >> do you think overall though, sir, mitt romney's response puts him in a worse light than president obama whose embassies around the world have become scenes of violent protests, flags being burned, walls breached? >> look, there is no excuse for what has happened. however, mr. romney did not state what president obama has done and even needs to do more. that what we have there in the middle east are nations that for 40 years lived under a dictator.
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and now that power of that nation is really in the hands of a -- of the people. that's what the a democracy is about. we have to be in the heart of the matter to guide that for three important reasons. what happens in the middle east? the cruxible of islam -- but in australia. second it's the energy source for the majority of the oil -- for a large part of the oil of the world for everyone. third, most important also, we have implaquable foes, much as you just began this interview with, iran that is opposed to us. this president has us positively engaged there not just with our military but with the other elements of our wonderful power, our values, that they look to us. the freedom of speech. freedom of press. that they don't understand because their government for 50 years has actually controlled the press. the continuance of our engagement by wonderful employees of our government, like ambassador stevens, which
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we should be praising our government employees more than condemning them all the time and giving them the adequate resources, is how we have to remain engaged. mr. romney didn't even speak of any of that in his statement so far. >> we had yet more incidents of the green on blue shootings in afghanistan this weekend. green being military parlance for the indigenous forces. blue being its own. this follows friday's tdeadly attack. >> it's very challenge ing. i have always argued for the last two years the only reason to be in afghanistan is because of al qaeda in pakistan. that is what really we went there for in the initial place. all that said, we have to look at ourselves. 25,000, minimum 25,000 recruits were taken in, if not more. witho without, as you probably read, the correct type of follow on in terms of investigation of who they are and what they are and keeping a close eye on that. we are now going back and relooking at all those individuals. no. i would argue that our interest is leaving behind some modicum
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of stability in afghanistan. we went there after 9/11 for one reason. the decimation of al qaeda that's in pakistan. our interest is really pakistan. leaving a strong democracy which is very challenging, i give you, there and making sure that we are able as we withdraw to go in and get them, as this president has done, even more than george bush, violating their air space if they won't do it with our drones. in short it isn't afghanistan. it is al qaeda and terrorists around the world. this president has, and george bush did good work, too, going after them to protect us. now we have to handle the arab spring which i would argue is more in the right direction because it's toward a democracy and change them from the crony capitalism they had. because we are more secure and prosperous than we are. >> sir, you have an open invitation to come back any time.
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appreciate your conversation. now to cash in the campaign. spending on advertising has now surpassed $600 million and is the most ever spent on campaign ads. mitt romney and his super pacs have shelled out $318.5 million. the president and his supporters just over $287 million. i i had pain in my abdomen...g. it just wouldn't go away. i was spotting, but i had already gone through menopause. these symptoms may be nothing... but they could be early warning signs of a gynecologic cancer, such as cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer. feeling bloated for no reason. that's what i remember. seeing my doctor probably saved my life. warning signs are not the same for everyone. if you think something's wrong... see your doctor. ask about gynecologic cancer. and get the inside knowledge.
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to front page politics. new today a bolt prediction from house minority leader nancy pelosi. today the democratic congresswoman says the pk of paul ryan on the republican ticket makes it easier for the democrats to take back control of the house. he hasn't visited the state since february but president obama is adding a stop in wisconsin to his schedule. he heads to milwaukee next saturday. the president won that state in 2008 by 14. new today, mitt romney has called off a scheduled event this afternoon in the battleground state of colorado due to an unrelated incident at the pueblo airport. the romney camp says former u.s.
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solicitor general for president bush will serve as debate partner for paul ryan. joining me now, politics staff writer for roll call and national political reporter for the "washington post" amy gardner. as we learn new details about how big the automatic budget cuts could be as the so-called fiscal cliff approaches, here's what nancy pelosi is saying about it. let's listen. >> the president as recently as yesterday, i received a call from him saying we really do have to have an agreement. which i fully agree with and we must have as much -- do everything we can to find common ground. >> mitt romney said in his weekly pod cast the president is, quote, passively allowing us to go over a fiscal chief. is there going to be an agreement before the january 2nd tedline? >> highly unlikely. let's look at the congressional calendar. they're coming back to town a couple days next week. out until the election.
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then the lame duck session. despite the fact that nobody in washington wants these cuts to go through, not on k street, the white house, house or democratic -- excuse me, republican or democratic senators, it's looking more and more likely that these are going to happen unless they can get something together in the lame duck which is already jam packed with the laundry list of legislative items to deal with. >> let's get with the details, amy, with you. we're talking about a 9.4% cut in defense programs, 8.2% cut in domestic programs. if no agreement is reached in time who's going to get the blame? will it be democrats or republicans? or will both sides be blamed equally? who has more at stake? >> as she said, no one wants this to happen. in fact, these cuts were put into this agreement in order to keep everybody at the table to come to a bigger deal to avoid these cuts. we're seeing the republicans try to blame president obama for the looming defense portion of these cuts. but we saw on friday the release of a report from the office of management and budget showing
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how deep the cuts would be in some of the domestic spending areas as well. that's, i think, fair to interpret as an attempt by the white house to push back. so everybody's going to try to blame everybody else. the fact is nobody want this is. i think it's also important to note that with congress's approval ratings far lower than president obama's, i don't think it would be accurate to suggest that the house republicans have an advantage when it comes to public opinion on this issue. >> let's look at the latest nbc news battleground states. it's a map which shows the president with an overall advantage at this point. but there are still a handful of crucial battleground states. >> you know, it seems with every passing week, the road to the white house, this electoral map you're showing becomes more and more difficult for governor romney. the real heart broker must be ohio. the president almost approaching 50% with a seven-point lead.
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no republican in modern history has ever won the white house without winning the buckeye state. that's a tough one. without ohio if it's even conceivable. they would have to run the table and win almost every other battleground state to have a chance november 6th. >> what's the sense you're getting, amy, from both camps about how the numbers are stacking up? >> i think both sides are conceding some of the bump we're seeing in spring state polls that came out over the past week reflect a post-democratic convention bounce that game president obama an advantage that may or may not last. the romney camp says this election is still going to be all about the economy. and the economy is still struggling. and it just doesn't make any sense to them that president obama can win a second term under these economic circumstances. his trick, of course, is to keep the conversation on the economy at a time when, of course, we're all talking about some foreign policy issues that he hasn't been viewed as handling all that well. i think that the obama side, too, is -- is warily eyeing
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these new polls. they expect things to level out again, too. they're not claiming victory just as much as the romney side is not throwing in the towel. >> another swing state i want to keep with you on this is colorado. one the president won in '08. right now we have a poll shows the president leads in that state by just one point. in your latest article you write about how the president is reaching out to colorado's middle-class voters. give me a sense of the situation there. >> sure. i think what colorado boils down to, a fact that's true in other swing states is the suburbs. there are two suburbs of denver, arapahoe and jefferson counties that have boomed in recent year. they've attracted a whole new and different population of unaffiliated voters. latinos. and among the unaffiliateds, interestingly, it is the women voters who are more likely to swing between the parties. men who call themselves independent are actually typically harder to move over to the "d" column than women.
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that explains president obama's emphasis on issues they deem as important to women. contraception, women's health issues, abortion and so on. you can see that in the messages that he is delivering in campaign commercials and mail pieces. he has a rally in golden, colorado, on thursday where he talked about a lot of these issues as well. >> the same question to you relative to iowa. a state that the president won last go-round. got a slight edge right now. what's your sense of things there? >> it's the true essence of the word battleground. you look at polls and they're all within the margin of error. look at the air waves in iowa. they've just been bombarded with presidential campaign ads. i spoke to a republican consultant this week who said it cost just as much to air an ad in sioux city this week as it does in st. louis, obviously a much bigger market. that's how much the state is being inundated. let's remember it's only six electoral votes in iowa. not a must win. sure, it would help governor romney in particular make
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some -- get some -- make some headway on the electoral map. but six votes in the scheme of things is not as big of prize as ohio or florida. >> ladies, thank you so much. >> thank you. now new developments in libya. the fbi investigation is under way on the deadly attack on the u.s. consulate there. today the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, susan rice, outlined the latest from the fbi investigation. >> our current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo. almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in cairo which were prompted, of course, by the video. what we think then transpired in benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. they came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are readily available in post-revolutionary libya, and it escalated into a
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much more violent episode. >> nbc's ayman mohyeldin is live in libya. let's talk about u.s. officials on the ground there. what do you know about people in custody in this incident? >> reporter: right now we know that libyan officials have rounded up anywhere between 30 to 40 -- as to who were the pre perpetrators behind this attack, perhaps some under the banner of foreign fighters that may have come in here. the libyan president is keen on saying this was a preplanned attack and had the hallmark of foreign fighters coming into exploit that security vacuum in the country. right now we understand that the libyan officials have been able to pinpoint some individuals who were there that night of the attack, some of the protesters. they have been able to seize some cell phone footage of those demonstrations and identify people there and speak to witnesses. they've also spoken to some of
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the security guards that were protecting the embassy who were wounded in the attack and now being treated here in libyan hom hospitals. they're trying to piece together what actually happened that night. they've also sealed the u.s. compound to try and preserve any evidence that once fbi observers or fbi investigators, rather, arrive here, they can actually go and see it for themselves. so far fbi investigators have not made it to benghazi as of yet. alex? >> nbc's ayman mohyeldin in benghazi. month by month, the fed's new rescue plan for the economy. who's it supposed to help and when? you're watching "weekends with alex witt." ♪ [ acoustic guitar: slow ] [ barks ] ♪ [ upbeat ] [ barks ] beneful playful life is made with energy-packed wholesome grains... and real beef and egg. to help you put more play in your day.
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in the past two months. also on the rise, the stock market. big gains tacked on last week after the federal reserve announced more quantitative easing known as qe-3. however a credit rating agency downgraded the u.s. debt rating from aa to aa minus following that decision. joining me is jared bernstein, former chief economist for vice president biden. welcome back to the show. thanks for being here. >> sure. >> we're looking at this. we have egan jones rating -- that agency rating qe-3, saying it's going to hurt the economy more than it's going to help. you wrote in a column on that qe-3 will help. but not a loalone. can you explain all this? >> sure. that little notch down nlt credit rating doesn't worry me that much. standard and poors took the u.s. credit rating down a notch. if anything the market res acted inversely. that didn't really hurt our
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credit outlook at all. in a way i just view these agency downgrades as kind of a commentary on a fiscal path that does look tough. look, in terms of the qe stuff, what my point was this. what these measures by the federal reserve do is they lower the rate of interest. the cost of borrowing in the economy. that's going to help a little bit. but interest rates were already pretty low. many of our firms are already sitting on lots of cash reserves. what's holding the economy back is not the cost of credit or the rate of interest. it's weak demand. that's really what we need to do more targeting of. >> how about the impact of the market boost for just average americans, folks with 40 # ks? >> here's the thing. what the quantitative easing does, particularly because the federal reserve is going to go out there and by mortgage bonds bundled into securities, what that hopes to do is take the mortgage rate down a bit. that can help in a number of ways. certainly can help homeowners looking to lock in a cheap mortgage. also has home prices begin to
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rise, some homeowners who are under water are going to break the surface, come above water. if they can refi into these lower rates, that's going to help them. it's going to help the economy, too. >> okay. jared, as much as you know economics, you know politics as well. we have the house having passed the spending bill on thursday. but they did not act on this looming fiscal cliff. is it possible for them to solve this in that very short period between the election and the holiday recess? >> right. that's the -- typically called the lame duck period. it's possible. i guess my view, it somewhat depends on how the election turns out. my view is it's pretty unlikely which means i'm afraid we're probably going over this cliff. that's not a good thing. it means taxes increase pretty sharply all of the sudden. over $100 billion spending cuts in one year. but if enough grown-ups can arrive on the scene in january to turn this thing around, we might be okay. >> but, jared, how is that? because pretty much general consensus is nobody wants us to
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go over this cliff. what would it take for people between the election and january 2nd to get it done? why does it seem insurmountable when nobody wants it to happen? >> great question. first thing is there has to be a whole lot less finger pointing for both sides and a lot more negotiation and compromise. here's an interesting point on what you just said. basically, congress and the president agree on 98% of the tax policy that's at stake here. that is they all agree taxes shouldn't go up on the middle class which is defined as incomes up to $250,000. there's only 2% of households above that rate. the senate democrats and the president say let the high income tax rates reset on those high income households. that's 2%. that's what they're fighting of. they agree on 98% of the tax policy. >> i agree with having you on the show. come back again. thank you. next up with the big three, dueling questions. the answers that could decide the election. welcome aboard!
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time for the big three. today's topics, are you better off? iran, game changer? and this week's must reads. deputy national political editor ort "washington post" ann kornblut. bloomberg view columnist jonathan alter. and meghan mccain. i tell you, you should have made the trip up. we're all here together without you. wish you were here. >> next time. >> jonathan, i'll begin with you here. the question, are we better off? answer it in the way that the poll tugss are looking at it with these two polls. you have this new cbs news/"new york times" poll that shows 38% of americans think the country is headed in the right direction. 57% say, nope, it's the wrong one. a look at this other poll when it comes to who can handle the economy better, the president slightly ahead of mitt romney. certainly most people are not
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blaming the president. i'm looking at the numbers here for the direction the country is headed in. or is that too much of a leap? >> it's a little bit of a loop. that's what the presidential election will be determined by is the direction we're going. are we basically headed in the right direction? and the miscalculation by the republicans who are asking the question are you better off than you were four years ago is they think americans have no memory. and, actually, americans are smarter than they give them credit for. four years ago exactly, september of 2008, what was going on? people were losing half, two-thirds, of their stock portfolios. the economy was falling off the cliff. so are we better off than we were four years ago? absolutely. you know, it's an objective fact. the economy was cratering four years ago. >> ann, i want to ask what you make of these polls. are you agreeing with what
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jonathan is saying? an assessment of four years ago and what it is now, at least there's an up tick? >> jonathan's exactly right. two weeks ago the are you better off than you were four years ago question was in a different place. what we've seen, of course, is the anniversary of the collapse of lehman brothers. that changed everything. that precise question is no longer a good one for republicans to be asking. but, look. there's no question there's still tough economic -- still a tough economic road for the obama administration going forward. people don't feel great. the real question is, how optimistic do they feel going forward? and do they remember, he mentioned people's long memories, and it's true. there's evidence in the data that people still blame president bush for a lot of what's going on. are people going forward going to make the calculation mitt romney would be more like bush or that mitt romney would be change. and change from an obama who's been to many a disappointment even if to others he seems like the safer bet. >> meghan, we have mitt romney borrowing the phrase from president reagan, are you better
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off? he's doing that. but the obama camp has responded with a new tv ad. we're going to have a listen to that and get your response. here it is. >> here's where we are today. 30 months of private sector job growth. creating 4.6 million new jobs. we're not there yet, but the real question is, who's plan is better for you? the president's plan asks millionaires to pay a little more. to help invest in a strong middle class. >> is president obama making a stronger case for the are you better off than mitt romney is? >> i don't believe it. just the fact that mitt romney is using are you better off than four years ago as a campaign platform in itself tells me that we're not doing better off than four years ago. listen, as john adams said, facts are a stubborn thing. we're at $16 trillion deficit right now. half of all college students can't find jobs. one-third of them are going back home to live with mom and dad. they were promised hope and change. as paul ryan said, they're looking at a faded poster in their parents' basement. looking at a future that's not as good as it was four years
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ago, eight years ago. no. >> real quick. >> one thing about that poster, jim routenburg "new york times" in the wrote at least the poster's still up on the wall. so it's faded. he's been a disappointment for a lot of younger voters. but they haven't totally given up on him. that might be the key. >> i want to switch gears with you, jonathan. begin with our topic about iran game change. we had israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu, he was on "meet the press" this morn ing. he spoke about his country's relationship with the u.s. and iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. listen to what he said. >> governor romney for a year, and he said it in his convention speech, has said, quote, president obama has thrown allies like israel under the bus. do you agree or disagree with governor romney's charge? it's a serious charge. >> well, you're trying to get me into the -- into the american election and i'm not going to do that. the relationship between israel and the united states is a bond of -- it's just a very powerful
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bond. >> what do you make of that answer? he doesn't -- he doesn't answer the question. >> by not answering the question, by not denying that barack obama wants to throw israel under the bus, he is int. and then he goes on to say well, i don't want to intervene in an american election. well, he just did by not denying that obama was throwing him under the bus. he's an old friend of mitt romney. he clearly wants mitt romney to win. he's doing whatever he can to help mitt romney win. a haoud barack said something about how president obama worked closely with the israelis and been one of the best leaders in recent times for the alliance between the united states and israel. so there are mixed signals coming out of israel in regards to the american presidential election. >> the american public has no appetite for another war. do you think saber rattling
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against iran and talking tough, do you think that might hurt mitt romney with voters? >> no, i don't think it will hurt mitt romney. i can't debate we have war fatigue in this country. i think americans can't sit back and watch an ambassador get slaughtered and not expect some kind of repercussions from america no matter what side of the aisle you stand on. >> megan, jonathan, ann. before i go to break, i do have time. i would like to hear your response to all of that as well. >> absolutely accurate. you know, when it comes to the jewish vote in particular in this country and i think a lot of people think when we're talking about israel that's what we're talking about. democrats traditionally have had a great advantage on that front. so i don't think we're really talking about a particular segment of the population that's going to be influenced by this debate. i think you're talking more
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broadly about whether people feel there will be a war that's imminent or not. so that's the right question to be answering. >> we'll take a short break. co. what we need are people prepared for the careers of our new economy. by 2025 we could have 20 million jobs without enough college graduates to fill them. that's why at devry university, we're teaming up with companies like cisco to help make sure everyone's ready with the know how we need for a new tomorrow. [ male announcer ] make sure america's ready. make sure you're ready. at ♪ the calcium they take because they don't take it with food. switch to citracal maximum plus d. it's the only calcium supplement that can be taken with or without food. that's why my doctor recommends citracal maximum. it's all about absorption.
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back now to the big three. we're going to have your must reads from all of them. so ann i'll go to you first. your must read this weekend? >> my esteemed colleague dana priest updating the nuclear arsenal that i highly recommend. >> certainly that is topic du jour for sure. >> a story in the "new york times" now the republican nominee for the the senate in indiana are moving to the center. they're saying to the voters they want to cooperate, work across the aisle. all the kinds of things they used to attack other republicans for advocating why is the general election in the center
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and they want a win. so suddenly they're not so tea party after all. >> do you expect based on history that two years from now they will go more conservative again? >> not clear. i think they have an advantage midterms when fewer people vote in big presidential elections they have to appeal to a broader cross-section of people. >> if we lose, the family loses we will have to reassess where this party is at. stpwhr >> i certainly hope so. jeb bush and others to say we need a different kind of party that's better on immigration and other issues. >> when you're seeing pundits like laura ingram agree that we will have to reassess where this party is at what what it means if we lose this election cycle. >> and your must read. >> "newsweek"'s cover story islamists's last stand about the
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extreme muslim. >> and "washington post" from any, why is the arab world so easily offended. read that. all great stuff. jonathan, megan, anne in washington. that's a wrap of this week's weekends with alex witt. oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners.
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[ "human" by the human league playing ] humans. we mean well, but we're imperfect creatures living in a beautifully imperfect world.

Weekends With Alex Witt
MSNBC September 16, 2012 12:00pm-2:00pm EDT

News News/Business. Live news coverage. New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Israel 31, U.s. 25, Iran 21, Romney 14, Libya 14, America 14, Us 14, Obama 10, United States 10, Benghazi 8, Benjamin Netanyahu 8, Washington 7, Nato 6, Paul Ryan 6, Florida 6, Colorado 6, California 6, Afghanistan 6, Virginia 6, Nbc 6
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